• Clean up the chaos. You are risking your life.

    I never really took to heart how dangerous it was, keeping the corner of my upstairs loft as my daily dumping grounds. In truth it was really more like the better half of a large room that exists up the stairs of my small home. It was the place I put the things I’m too tired to put away each night: the pile of mail I picked up on the way home but don’t really want to deal with right now, the boxes I haven’t unpacked since I moved in more than two years ago, stacked on top of boxes still unpacked from moves before that. It’s where the clothes I can’t fit into hang, where old picture frames and posters collect dust and debris, and momentos that mean something only to me are hidden away.

    Ironically this dumping ground exists within my favorite space in my home…a loft area, with a peek at the ocean, I dreamed of having as my creative space when I moved in. It also happens to be the easiest space to close off and hide from people.

    I think we all feel at some level how the junk drawers of our lives weigh us down. Some of us have entire spaces that fit the bill. Hoarders are the extreme cases, but most of us have dumping grounds of some sort. It wasn’t until Martha Beck asked me to give it a soul of sorts…a voice, that I realized how truly dangerous it was, and how how much it was taking from me.

    What would my dumping grounds say to me if it could talk?

    “Stop it. I’m suffocating, and I’m angry. Clean up this mess. I need room to breathe. Until you do, I will continue to trip you up, leaving your knees, head, and toes bruised every time you stumble trying to step over, around and under me. I will hide your treasures from you, wasting your valuable time and energy, giggling silently as you frantically search for something important you need desperately to find right now. Deal with me! I am not your friend until you do.”

    It took that little exercise to prompt me to block out a couple of days and get to it. I can’t tell you how much more light of heart and spirit I feel walking into my home now that I have. Even though the space is upstairs, I feel the harmony that now exists there the minute I walk in the front door.
    If our homes are symbolic of our lives, my loft was the dark corner in which I couldn’t seem to sit still long enough to deal with. It was the place in which I longed most to sit, relax, write and create, but the corner I gave the least focused attention. Consequently, it sat as a constant reminder of all I have fallen short of accomplishing.

    We all have them: places we long to be, to explore, to experience. But we clutter up the our paths to get there with the debris of our daily lives, putting it off until some future perfect day when we can dive in. What is the space you give the least attention to in your life? The area you have a hunch would be your comfort zone, if you would only set up shop there. There is likely a place in your home that represents that. Want to travel the world, but can’t imagine having the time or money? Forget the rest of the house today. Focus on organizing all those travel magazines and books and find the perfect spot for them. They is not just another project you will get to “someday.” This is your dreams being denied because you are ignoring them.

    I have come to believe putting off cleaning up the clutter of hobby space is more than procrastination. It is self-neglect. There is no future perfect. It is now. Today. And the longer you put off clearing the clutter, the harder it is to find the treasures.

  • Put more happy in your hours (with or without cocktails.)

    Happy Hour. Come on. Just the name makes you want to be part of one, right? For as long as I can remember I’ve been intrigued with the concept…even before I knew what it meant. Happy Hour. It’s just so full of joy.

    I attended my first sometime in college. It was at a bar called Los Hermanos in downtown San Luis Obispo.
    For five bucks, you could get a pitcher of margaritas and nachos. What’s not to love about that? I’d head down after swim practice with friends probably once a week and they were, indeed, happy hours. The frozen mix of sugary lemon-lime, salt, low-shelf tequila paired with bottomless chips and salsa and bargain nachos left me with a comfy combination of a full belly and light head.

    As I entered the working world of television news, those kind of happy hours went by the wayside. When it seemed most of my peers where spending their winding down hours enjoying drink specials and social connections, I was winding up with late afternoon deadlines and live newscasts at 5 and 6. Don’t get me wrong. It fueled my fancy in many ways as much as nachos and margarita specials. But when I decided to take my time out from life as a knew it a year ago, Happy Hours were were toward the top of my list of things I was looking forward to enjoying again.

    I did, and I still do. I love being out and about when the working world calls it quits and people head to their favorite patio or watering hole to speed up the winding down process. What I also discovered is how my favorite happy hours come in all different forms.

    At first it was being there for sunset, glass of wine in hand for the magic. Eventually I found the joy in doing wind-sprints with a group of like-minded fitness idealists at the high-school track. And it’s hard to beat walking a long stretch of Pismo Beach or Morro Strand and watching the world wind down in their own perfect ways when I normally would have been reading the news.

    Those are the moments when I find myself overwhelmed with joy. So completely taken by the magic of the moment and the gift of time I have found to soak it all up. Happy Hours. They don’t always come at quittin’ time or with drink specials and $5.00 nachos. They come in blocks of time when we say “time-out” to the responsibilities that plaque is. The endless to-do list that will never be done. They are our responsibility to schedule, seize and appreciate. And I am convinced they are the moments we will remember most, and best.

    So, as I enter back into the work world and realize I’m just not ready, financially or professionally, to retire, one thing that will be non-negotiable are my happy hours. They may come at dawn. They may be lunches that spill over into early afternoon. Most likely they will be the hours that were once out of reach for me to be outside and most definitely, they will paired with Mother Nature. For I have found how deeply I love to be in her presence.

    So stay tuned as I share my search for the best Happy Hours. Whether they be seaside at sunset, kicking back at a beautiful winery listening to the talent of our great local musicians, or exploring a new hike through this beautiful country we call home.

    I truly believe fun is the best thing to have, and at the end of our journeys we will long for the days we were most happy rather than most successful. So I will seek more happy hours than more money or more prestige. That much I know. So Cheers my friends! Here’s to more Happy hours in your days and lives.